I can't believe we are leaving for the nationals in a week. Eeek! The last couple of months have slipped by incredibly quickly, and we are about to get on a plane to go and play agility with a whole HEAP of other people.
Red Dog is not quite as prepared as I was hoping she would be. She is only in excellent, and as only a 2 year old dog, I am happy with that. But her equipment performance is not quite as polished as I would like. Specifically, her A-Frame and her jumping/bars. I am happy with everything else.. but the A Frame retrain is taking much longer than I thought it would. I actually very quickly put a stop on it the other day, incase I need it over there. It is hard on her shoulders though so I will persevere with the run when we get back. I am finding teaching a running AF when the dog does NOT have a running dog walk, much, much harder. And don't even get me started on the number of reps.. and this is with a supposed 'clear criteria' method. Fact is, it is hard even if they know what they are supposed to be doing, for them to do it especially as there are so many variables. Straight approach, turn approach, short approach, long approach. Obstacle close to the other side, obstacle far away. Straight exit, turning exit. Handler moving, handler stationary, handler turning. Different obstacles on the exit.. the list goes on and on!! At some stage of course they need to generalise and start doing the performance regardless.. but apparently we are not at 'that stage' yet. So. The AF could go either way. The bars may or may not stay up..they have been coming down a lot lately. Something that most high drive dogs struggle with at some stage.. we are at 'that stage', apparently. Coinciding nicely with her 1st nationals :)
I am feeling a little melancholy about my 1st nationals without Terra.. my amazing 4-nationals-in-a-row winning dog. It is going to be strange without her.. I knew that dog inside out and we were absolutely not unprepared when we stepped up to that line. We had one of those partnerships that we both knew what each other were thinking and mostly our runs reflected that. Red Dog and I are not there yet. We are still developing that partnership and still finding each other out. We are at a different stage..but an exciting one!
I love her enthusiasm, and her speed, and her willingness to work with me. She tries hard, and she tries to be a good girl. Sometimes her enthusiasm means it is hard for her to work without making mistakes and that is OK. We will get there and we will have a great time doing it!
So... normally I have goals for the nationals. Get in the finals, run clear, do well. I like goal setting, and I like meeting those goals. But I also like my goals to be appropriate for the stage the dog and I are at, so those will not be our goals this year. Our goals are to have a good time, to give her her first 'big' experience..with flying and travelling and running at a huge event with lots of people and dogs. To hopefully build a positive first step at the start of her career..
On another note, she got her Jumping Dog Excellent title at the last trial, so when we get back from the nationals and after her month off in July we will be playing with the big dogs! Not too shabby, in masters well before she is 3, and only being with me a couple of days each week. Here are a couple of her recent runs:
Ran into the side of the tunnel!